Evening Express

Wright could carry ball better than Pawlett for McInnes’ Aberdeen

Aberdeen's Scott Wright, right, in action with St Mirren's Stephen McGinn.

Boss Derek McInnes believes Scott Wright has the potential to be a No.10 who can cause havoc to opponents.

The 21-year-old winger was switched to a more direct role through the middle behind striker Stevie May in the 4-0 Betfred Cup defeat of St Mirren.

McInnes hailed Wright’s performance as “outstanding” in a first start for the Reds since a 2-1 loss to Rangers at Pittodrie on December 3 last year.

With the positions on the wings currently occupied by in-form Gary Mackay-Steven and Northern Ireland international Niall McGinn, the No.10 role could be the breakthrough position for Wright.

Former Dons winger Peter Pawlett faced a similar situation when he was moved into the attacking role in midfield when McGinn and Jonny Hayes were the first-choice wide players.

McInnes reckons Wright can be even more effective than Pawlett, who moved to MK Dons last summer.

McInnes said: “It is a role Scott can play and I have spoken to him about it.

“People naturally think that when you are quick player and a ball carrier you normally get played as a winger.

“Scott is good out there as well.

“We all know there is a natural talent there and the ability to run at people.

“However, it is a similar situation to when we first had Peter Pawlett when we came into the building five years ago.

“We played Peter in the No.10 position and asked him to go and eliminate people from there.

“Scott has the potential to be a better ball carrier than Peter was.

“Peter had an impact on our team and I think Scott can be something similar in that role.

“Against St Mirren when it worked he picked and chose his moments to come off and to go in behind.

“Scott was difficult to deal with as it is hard when quick players don’t stand still and he can eliminate people.”

Wright has had to wait patiently for his first start in nine months and grabbed his opportunity to shine.

With chances likely to be limited out wide due to Mackay-Steven and McGinn the 21-year-old has had to adapt.

The No.10 role where Wright has been charged with bursting through the middle to beat the offside trap is one Wright has played before for Scotland at U21 level.

McInnes said: “I wasn’t going to single anyone out but for me Scott Wright was the pick of everybody.

“He allowed others to be as good as they can be by causing St Mirren all sorts of problems.

“They didn’t know whether to play high or deep and he recognised that.

“Scott is more than just a ball carrier.

“I didn’t have the benefit of being able to run at speed and make a decision.

“That for me is the difference between good forward players that have quickness in their game but can still make those right decisions.

“We played him in and about McGinn and told him to make sure he never stood still and he didn’t.

“That pleases me when you see him taking on information.

“His decision making for the majority of the time was right, although he didn’t get his end product with his goals.

“Scott was different class.”

Wright was not the only product of the Aberdeen youth Academy to impress in the 4-0 rout of St Mirren, which could easily have been double that score-line.

Frank Ross, 20, , was pitched into the Reds’ starting line-up at short notice following an injury in the warm-up to Niall McGinn.

McGinn sustained a calf injury but is expected to be fit for Saturday’s Premiership trip to Hibs.

Ross was given the nod 20 minutes before kick off but produced an impressive performance in only his second start for Aberdeen.

Striker Bruce Anderson came off the bench, as did Connor McLennan.

McInnes insists the only aspect missing from Wright’s performance was a goal, although he unselfishly squared a pass for Stevie May to score when in on goal.

McInnes said: “If we are being hyper critical Scott should have been running away with the match ball as he got into great areas to score.

“That is the one wee thing that I am sure will be nagging away at him – that he didn’t get his goals.

“But he did everything else- Scott was outstanding.

“However, we should be waxing lyrical about a hat-trick for Scott.”